Ask this mentor a question

Read more about my experiences

Please feel free to read my profile as it may help to answer any questions you have. You can also search for another ambassador who may be able to answer any further questions!

Back to Ambassador listing

Past Questions

  1. Hello, I am a Botany Graduate from Wilson's College, which is affiliated with the University of Mumbai. I scored 61% in my final year and have a 7.45/10 B+ grade in my TYBSc in Botany. Currently, I am pursuing my Masters of Science degree in Bioinformatics. I am looking forward to studying a Masters of Science or a postgraduate taught course in Immunology and Immunotherapy at the University of Birmingham. I want to know if I am eligible for this course? Please let me know.

    Hi! Thanks for getting in touch - As I am a UK student, I am sorry but I don't have any information about international student admission requirements. I suggest having a look at this website >> https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/university/colleges/professional/external/admissions/index.aspx and getting in touch with admissions who would be able to provide more advice. Alternatively, if you find a PhD program or project you like, getting in touch with the supervisor would also help identify if you're suitable for the project.

    Hope that helps!

  2. Hello! I want to apply for a full-time PhD position in Microbiology and Infection Research at UoB. I already contacted the supervisor of the project and he suggested I apply for a Darwin studentship. As far as I know, before applying for this studentship I should pass an interview in which I have to impress the secondary supervisor of the project or a senior PI in order to get nominated for this studentship. Can you please tell me more about this process? How should I prepare for my interview? Do you know what costs Darwin studentship would cover? Also, what does a "competition funding" means when it comes to fund a PhD project? How much is a PhD stipend? Thanks in advance!

    Hi! Thanks for getting in touch - in terms of the Darwin studentship, I apologise as I'm not really aware of that studentship as I believe it is for international students (Im a UK based student), but I am aware it is a microbiology based scholarship for international students:

    https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/funding/darwin-studentships.aspx

    Its best to speak to admissions who can direct you to more information on international student based funding: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/university/colleges/professional/external/admissions/index.aspx

    Your PI/group should tell you how to prepare for the interview - it is either a short presentation on a paper/previous work you've done or it is a formal interview where you are asked questions about experiments and your experience.

    Competition funded PhDs normally mean that a number of PIs/groups will advertise PhDs which are all funded by the same scholarship scheme - a group/groups will then win funding from that scholarship depending on who has the best candidate. A PhD stipend is between £15,000-£17,000 for 20-21 (how much you get depends on how its funded (e.g. industry funded programs have a bigger stipend).

    Hope that helps!

  3. Hi Jagjeet, I am interested in the Immunology and Immunotherapy programme at the University of Birmingham.

    I was just wondering what the methodology of the research element of the course is; as in is it in-vitro or is it on animal models?

    Also when considering between Masters/PhD... is it common to do a full time PhD, or in terms of employability afterwards, would it be more beneficial to do the PhD part time whilst working? How did you do it and do you have any recommendations?

    Hi! Thanks for getting in touch! Immunology and Immunotherapy is the broad name of the PhD - this covers the theme of your PhD however, your actual PhD can vary and be in vitro, mouse models or even a bit of both! When you apply for a PhD program, you will usually be told what type of work is expected, therefore you can decide if it's the sort of methodology you want to work on.

    In terms of full time/part time PhDs, it really depends on what your requirements are and what works better for you. For many, doing a PhD full time is more convenient as its like your full time job and you can focus solely on your PhD (and of course do some part time work on the side if you want). For others, such as clinicians or those with childcare responsibilities, doing a part time PhD fits in with their lifestyle so it is really up to you. It's also important to note, some PhDs are only offered in full time positions. I did my PhD full time mainly because I wanted to mainly just focus on my PhD. This was convenient for me as part time PhDs take longer and I wanted to finish my PhD in a suitable time frame, but also, due to the nature of my PhD (working with clinical samples), the PhD was only offered as a full time PhD.

    Hope that helps!

  4. Hi Jagjeet! I am from India and I have done my Masters in Pharmacy. I am very much interested in studying a PhD in the UK at the University of Birmingham. Birmingham has the subjects of my choice and I would like to start my journey in the UK at this institution. Can you please help me out with some queries that I have?

    Hi! Thanks for getting in touch – As I am a UK student, I am sorry but I don’t have any information about international student admission requirements. I suggest having a look at this website >> https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/university/colleges/professional/external/admissions/index.aspx and getting in touch with admissions who would be able to provide more advice. Alternatively, if you find a PhD program or project you like, getting in touch with the supervisor would also help identify if you’re suitable for the project.

  5. Hi, I have completed my Masters degree in Zoology in 2017 and now I would like to continue my studies. I would like to know if it is possible to join a research project?

    Hello, Thanks for getting in touch - the best way to identify a research project is to have a look on findaphd.com and see their requirements or contact a supervisor who's work you really like and see if they have any vacancies at the moment. Some PhDs may require a Masters, but not all, and some will also want examples of any experience you may have, so anything you can show will just make you more competitive. Hope that helps!

  6. Hi Jagjeet, I am a bachelors student in India. I am studying Biochemistry, Genetics and Biotechnology. I love research and want to do a course which helps me gain field knowledge and skills required to work in a lab, and the MRes courses I have seen provide 2 projects. How do you go about choosing the projects? Also are there any requirements like internships or projects you need to do in your bachelors? Also what is the process of application and selection?

    Hi!

    In terms of choosing projects for the MRes, the process involved finding research groups who were working on areas you were interested in or topics/methods you really wanted to study and then emailing the groups ourselves to see if they could accommodate us in the lab for one of the research projects. After emailing, most of the groups I contacted asked for a face-to-face meeting and we discussed my background and the sort of work I could do for my project so there is a lot of choice/flexibility in choosing projects. For requirements for the course its best to contact the school and admin team as they may have more specific requirements from when I did my masters - any experience you have either way will be beneficial in the Masters. The application (this if from a UK student perspective, it may be different for international students, so again best to check with the school) consisted of applying through the Universities online portal (uploading transcripts etc) and writing a personal statement. I then received feedback on my application from the course director.

    Hope that helps!

    This is the link for entry requirements for the course: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/courses/combined/biosciences/molecular-cellular-biology.aspx#EntryRequirementsTab

  7. Hi Jagjeet, I have completed my MSc in Life Sciences from India. I have focused work on cancer projects during my academic years, after I explored different areas of research. I am looking for a PhD position in the area of tumour microenvironment and immunotherapy. I want to know if I should apply for the PhD or MSc by research in Immunology and Immunotherapy offered at the university. Also, should I contact a supervisor if I am applying for MSc instead of a PhD?

    Can you give me more information regarding the research dynamics of the university? I would be glad to know more about your work, if you are comfortable, to get an idea of the research environment.

    Thank you for your time.

    Hello, thank you very much for your question and apologies in the delay getting back to you. My name is Emma from the Postgraduate Recruitment team, and I am replying on behalf of the mentor as they have not yet answered it.

    Whether you apply for an MSc by Research or PhD is entirely up to you - the MSc by Research is one year, while the PhD is 3 (full-time) so is more of a commitment. In some cases, an MSc by Research can be used as the first year of a PhD if it goes well, so that's an option!

    In either case, yes you will need to look for a supervisor before applying.

    I can't offer any first hand experience of the research environment I'm afraid but you can contact the MDS team at mds-gradschool@contacts.bham.ac.uk. They will hopefully be able to help further.

    Best wishes, PG Recruitment

    Hi, hope you are well!– apologies for the delay in responding to you.

    If you’re confused about going down the MSc/PhD route it might be worth reaching out to the school and seeing which you’d benefit from most – the MSc is great to build research experience in the lab and as Emma mentioned, the PhD is a bigger commitment. For both the MSc and PhD its always best to reach out to the supervisor – it shows your interest in the project but also helps you see if you’d fit into the group too. Depending on which MSc you go for, the method of contacting a supervisor will be different – for some programmes, a list of potential supervisors and projects is released and you choose from those whereas in some MScs/MRes programmes (such as I did), you have to find a project and supervisor yourself – again its best to contact the school to get more information. The University generally has a very rich research dynamic, every floor in the medical school has a bustling community of people of different levels of research from PhD students, technicians, research assistants and post-docs. There are a lot of collaborations between groups at the University and with other Universities and companies. I suggest that if you find a project/group you like, it’s a good idea to reach out to them and see if they have any funding or if you can meet with the group – every PhD is unique (although we all have long hours in common!) and a lot of the experience depends on the group you work with so that really is the best way to get a feel of how your research environment will be.

    Hope that helps!

  8. Hi, I am from India. Currently I am a final year MSc student. I am interested in applying for PhD in Immunology for autumn 2021. I would like to know, do I have to contact a supervisor prior to applying? Is research experience required to be an successful applicant? And I also want to know more about funding.

    If you could kindly guide me regarding this, it would be very helpful.

    Thank you in advance.

    Hi,

    Hope you're well!

    In terms of contacting a supervisor before applying, if you're looking to go into a specific area of research or you really like the work of a particular supervisor, then it’s definitely worth contacting the supervisor to see if they have any PhDs available/funding available. If you find a PhD through a website (e.g. findaphd.com) or an advert, then again, it’s a great idea to reach out to the supervisor to find out more about the PhD and also demonstrates your interest in the project.

    In terms of research experience, it’s great that you have the experience of an MSc which will work in your favour, however being a successful applicant depends on various other factors too such as the supervisor, the group, the project and also on the other applicants. PhDs, especially funded PhDs, are extremely competitive, so if you can show that you have relevant research experience, it will definitely work in your favour and make you more competitive.

    For funding, I’d recommend this website: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/funding/index.aspx and there is information around on the Birmingham university website & findaphd.com about international student scholarships, however depending on the PhD you apply for, there may be a scholarship/funding attached with the project too.

    Hope that helps!

    Best of luck,

    Jagjeet

  9. Hey Jagjeet, I have some questions about the Immunology and Immunotherapy program, I would appreciate it if you could help me? I have been accepted for the MRes part of the program would also further like to progress into a PhD. Since I belong to a non-EU/UK country (India), I believe the chances of funding is a bit less for us. I would really like to discuss this further. Since you are in the exact same place where I wish to be, I believe you would be the ideal person to help me out. How did you fund your studies? Thank you!

    Hello, thank you very much for your question. My name is Emma from the Postgraduate Recruitment team, and I am replying on behalf of the mentor as they have not yet answered it.

    There are various funding opportunities available for both home and international students. Please refer to our funding database (https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/funding/index.aspx) for possible funding opportunities. You may also find information on our international pages useful, including our page on international scholarships (https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/International/students/finance/scholarships/index.aspx).

    Best wishes, Emma

    Hi! In terms of funding, I am a UK citizen and therefore was eligible for EU-UK funding for my PhD. Do not feel too disheartened about finding funding for your PhD – some projects can have both EU/UK and, or, Non-EU/UK citizens funding. As Emma mentioned above, there is also information available on the University website about funding and scholarships for international students. I’d also recommend speaking to a supervisor who’s project you may be interested in – they may be able to help guide/support you in attaining funding for a PhD. Hope that helps! Jagjeet

  10. Was there a big transition from undergraduate to postgraduate study?

    I think more than anything, there is a lot more emphasis on you organising your own time independently. For example, as a Masters student, I have to organise a lot of my time around being in the lab and my experiments but also the lectures and seminars I have to attend as part of the course and the lab I am working in. As an undergraduate you’re more likely given a timetable and have either lectures or are working in the lab one at a time or with not much overlap, so multitasking independently is key for postgrad.

  11. Why did you choose the University of Birmingham?

    I chose the University of Birmingham for many reasons, such as its reputation for its globally recognised research, the chance to experience working in different labs at the University and generally undertaking a unique and highly interesting MRes.

  12. What piece of advice would you give to anyone considering postgraduate study in your field?

    My key advice would be, research everything thoroughly. Research about the area you are passionate about, research the University, the type of Masters/PhD you want to undertake and research how this postgraduate study will help you with your future plans. This way, you will be equipped with everything you need to make an informed decision that you will hopefully ultimately enjoy.

  13. What, for you, are the best things about the course?

    The variety on the course is great: it’s up to you to decide where you want to do your projects! I have the chance to work in different labs, on different research projects and meet experienced researchers who are willing to share all their advice and help you really understand the research environment. I also like the fact that you get a mix of being a taught and a research student which is great so you’re not just constantly in the lab.

  14. What was your motivation for undertaking postgraduate study?

    For me, I really wanted to gain more practical lab experience in biology after my undergraduate and see whether a career in research was for me. Doing an MRes has allowed me to work in two different labs throughout the academic year and gain a vast amount of experience in different areas of biology in terms of research topics and techniques.

  15. Dear Jagjeet, I would like to apply for the MRes in Molecular and Cellular Biology and my main interests are molecular disorders. Is there an opportunity to take this further with this course? Also, for this course are you required to have a research proposal for your application?

    Hi, yes there is! As part of the MCB MRes, you complete two research projects and it was up to us to decide where we wanted to work, who we wanted to work with and on what topic. It’s great if you know what you’re interested in (i.e. molecular disorders) as you can research potential supervisors and email them to see whether they can take you for one of the projects.

    When I applied, I didn’t have to do a research proposal. For us, we had to find two supervisors for both projects (obviously falling into the molecular and cellular biology theme) and just let the course admins know who we were working with and gave a summary title.

    Just as a note, I would suggest contacting the course admins to confirm if this is still the protocol for choosing projects etc. as things may have changed for the coming academic year.